In a dramatic finale to a trial full of startling testimony, former Florida Outlaws Motorcycle Club president Clarence "Smitty" Smith took the stand Thursday in federal court to deny involvement in six killings.
Smith denounced the former Outlaws who testified against him as liars . During heated exchanges with the prosecutor on cross-examination, Smith admitted to occasional drug use but otherwise denied wrongdoing.
Smith described his conversion from eight-year Army veteran to disaffected "1 percenter" on the margins of society _ respectful only of the Outlaw code.
"When you are living the lifestyle on one side of the tracks, you either abide bythat lifestyle or end up in the graveyard," Smith said.
Attorneys for all four Outlaw defendants have rested their cases. The four are charged with engaging in a conspiracy of murder, extortion and drug trafficking. Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday.
Smith was the only defendant to testify on his own behalf. He has been the subject ofmost of the testimony, including the most gruesome, from government witnesses.
Former Outlaws testified that Smith ordered a woman thrown off the Sunshine Skyway Bridge for threatening to go to the police. They said Smith commissioned a quadruple homicide to avenge a sexual assault of a female Outlaw associate. They said he blew up the truck of a federal witness in a contract hit using his knowledge of explosives from the military.
Jurors in this case have not been told that state juries acquitted Smith of murder charges.
On the stand Thursday morning, Smith, a grandfather four times over, wore a gray sweater, a graying goatee, thick bifocals and some false teeth prone to slipping.
Asked by his attorney, Smith denied involvement in any killings. He denied blowing up the federal witness for $3,000.
"I wouldn't be a hit man that cheap," he said and smiled. Jurors did not smile.
Smith said he was no saint or teetotaler. He said he had been an Outlaw for the camaraderie, not to commit crimes.
The exchanges heated up on cross-examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney Terry Furr.
The prosecutor quoted from a letter Smith wrote to an Army general when Smith went AWOL in the late 1960s: " "I've killed for my country and I WILL damn well kill for myself.' "
The prosecutor showed Smith a gun permit and tried to get Smith to say he lied about his address.
"It was my legal mailing address," Smith replied. "If it's against the law, charge me."
The prosecutor asked if a former Outlaw, William Gorman, lied about Smith's participation in crimes.
"Mr. Gorman's a piece of s---," Smith said.
The prosecutor ticked through the other cooperating Outlaws _ some of whom, such as J.J. Hall and "Quick Carl" Holley, have admitted to murders of their own.
Liars, Smith replied. All these former Outlaws were lying? the prosecutor asked.
"The key word is former," Smith said.
Smith admitted showing other Outlaws how to build gun silencers but said it was a trick cribbed from a Steven Segal movie. Almost anything could be a weapon, Smith said. A ball-point pen. A credit card. A watch.
"You are an expert with weapons," the prosecutor said.
"The same government that's paying you taught me," Smith said.
Smith's attorney, Clive Smith, who is no relation, wanted to show the full context of his client's angry letter to the Army general.
Because Clarence Smith's eyes were so weak, his attorney read for him. As he recited Smith's situation upon returning from Vietnam _ his wife and children left him, keeping the house and car and leaving bills and a court order _ the attorney began to sob.
The lawyer composed himself and continued. Smith volunteered to return to Vietnam but was rejected, the letter said. Smith wrote: " " . . . it was then that I decided the only way you're going to get anything for yourself that you want or need is to get it yourself . . . .' "